Tom Holland in The Russo Brother's Cherry 2021

Since their first entry into the MCU with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers have established themselves as juggernauts of the franchise. The duo have directed some of the most successful Marvel films to date, including Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. It’s no secret that directing two of the highest-grossing films of all time allows for a degree of creative leverage in future projects. The Russo brothers recently used their Marvel clout (and directorial talents) to secure funding for Tom Holland’s upcoming Apple TV+ film, Cherry.

The Russo brothers next film Cherry is their first directing foray outside of the MCU since the 2006 comedy, You, Me and Dupree. In a recent interview Joe Russo admitted that a big reason Cherry was greenlit with its current budget was because of their success with Marvel:

This is the nice thing coming off all the branding you get from the Marvel films. You see this with Taika Waititi; you can use that branding to get things made that traditionally wouldn’t get made. We’re always looking at projects that have a level of complexity but are also broad appeal stories. Soderbergh taught us very early on and said, ‘one for you, one for them’ He meant to show people you can make money, then use that brand leverage to do an interesting project. We don’t always go one for one. We did a good 10-year run at Marvel, but Cherry would have never gotten made, with this budget, if we hadn’t done those Marvel films.

In his interview with Variety, Joe Russo mentions the sage advice they received from Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh partially inspired the brothers' decision to make Cherry. The “one for you, one for them” mentality allows for the creation of projects that probably wouldn’t see the light of day without a proven track record of success.

The Russos can now use their massive success with Marvel to work on smaller scale, more complex projects. It looks like Cherry will be the brothers’ first film heading that direction, as the plot is anything but MCU-friendly. Although it does star one major figure from the shared universe.

Cherry stars Tom Holland as a former Army medic who resorts to robbing banks to feed his opioid addiction. The film is rated R by the MPAA “for graphic drug abuse, disturbing and violent images, pervasive language, and sexual content.” So it's a clear departure from their previous collaboration.

The Russo Brothers aren’t the only ones branching out from the MCU with Cherry. The film is Tom Holland’s is among his on-screen appearances outside of the Marvel franchise since donning the spider-suit. His first move to more dramatic roles was the similarly dark Netflix thriller, The Devil all the Time.

Actors taking a break from the big budget glitz of major Hollywood franchises isn’t new. Tom Holland won’t be the first, or the last, actor to step away from the spotlight to take on more challenging independent roles. Robert Pattinson fans may remember his transition to independent cinema after the success of Twilight.

The same can be said for directors, but only the Russo Brothers know what is in store for their future projects. Fans can rest assured that the duo have plans outside of the MCU though, as the pair are similarly in the dark about Phase 4. The Russo's upcoming film Cherry will premiere in select theaters February 26, 2021, and will head to Apple TV+ March 12, 2021. For the entire slate of upcoming films, be sure to check CinemaBlend’s 2021 release date schedule.

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